8 October 2013

05/10/2013 The Whisky Show 2013 (Day 1 -- Part 1)

What possibly remains the most interesting corporate event of the year is here again. The queue is long when we make it there, but it moves rather quickly. Twenty minutes and we are in. Reception is handled efficiently -- no scanner crash today.
This edition is made special by a few things, such as the debut of Hunter Laing and the return of Signatory Vintage, which we start with.
dom666, JS and myself, this year, though we do meet a lot of familiar faces at the venue. Festival mode, which means notes are succinct and repetitive. Also, we each take different things so as to try as much as possible, but it means I do not always get to try what the others have and vice versa.

The queue to enter the Justin Bieber-slapping tournament was rather long

The least one can say is that Signatory/Edradour did not come empty-handed. The selection on paper is impressive to say the least and, fearing the liquid might disappear very quickly (no intention to reproduce the White Bowmore mishap of two years ago), we run for it as soon as we are in. It turns out to be pointless, as there is enough of the interesting ones for both days alright, what with everyone mostly reaching for the Islay whiskies, presumably.

Mosstowie 34yo 1979/2013 (50.3%, SV Cask Strength Collection, Bourbon Barrel C#1353, 181b): this is the Lomond-still side of Miltonduff. There have been a fair few expressions, but it is far from a common sight. Nose: light, fruity and subtle as the produce of a Lomond still usually is. Vanilla, coconut. Mouth: still coconut, yet it is also peppery and sparkly. Finish: this remains very nervous, with lots of fiery pepper and toasted, grated coconut. I love a good Mosstowie and this is one of them. 8/10

Glen Mhor 30yo 1982/2012 (53.7%, SV Cask Strength Collection, Hogshead, C#1606, 201b): closed about thirty years ago. Nose: bakery, vanilla pudding and gingerbread. Mouth: smooth and easy, banana dessert with a sprinkle of green pepper. Finish: pencil-sharpener blade, verbena, flowers. This is good enough, but the least impressive we will have at this stand.

Glenlochy 32yo 1980/2012 (60.1%, SV Cask Strength Collection, Refill Butt, C#1759, 499b): it is not a joke, Signatory did come with ridiculously rare stuff -- another victim of the early Eighties, which has always been hard to find. Nose: a lot more herbal than the previous (dried fern, pine undergrowth, moss-covered stone). Mouth: smooth with a tingle -- is it coconut milk about to turn bad? Quite spicy too. Finish: long and peppery. Very, very interesting, though it will not please everyone. An old-school Highlander as I like them. With a hefty price tag. 8/10

Craigduff 40yo 1973/2013 (49.6%, SV Cask Strength Collection, Refill Butt, C#2516, 616b): did I say ridiculous selection? Say it again with me: RI-DI-CU-LOUS! This is one of two experimental malts distilled at Glen Keith in the 1970s. Only Signatory has ever released any of it as single malt, and then fewer than half a dozen casks to this day. It is only my second Craigduff, so quite excited. Nose: lots of herbs and stone. Pebbles, rocky moorlands. Mouth: beautifully mineral, mossy, with lichen and fern. Finish: robust and grassy, mossy, stony with some bitterness in the end. Lovely drop. 8/10

Right next to Signatory, Adelphi is our next stop.

Slaney Malt 11yo 2001/2012 (57%, Adelphi Limerick Selection, C#9929, 235b): nose: light and easy, very fruity (white peach). Mouth: so much fruit it is stupid. Peach, still, unripe berries, greengages, a certain amount of pepper as well. Finish: can you spell MARACUJA? Lovely, lovely, lovely, despite a distant bitterness (at 11yo, it can be considered rather green). It is not available in the shop, but tomorrow, we will manage to secure the last two bottles from the Adelphi stand, yay. Having connections rules. 9/10

Across the hall to No. 1 Drinks, while the following two are still available. The bottles are about two thirds down (an hour in!) and the shop only had five bottles of them left while we were waiting to get in. That is not five of each either...

Karuizawa 31yo 1981/2013 (60.6%, Number One Karuizawa Single Casks, Sherry Cask, C#3555, 108b): nose: dom666 loves it (oh-ho!) Barbecue sauce. I would even go further and say: Pringles Xtreme Smokin' Ribs flavour. Grilled meat and cooling embers. Mouth: too much sherry for me, now. A bit rough and very sticky. Finish: the sherry stays in the mouth for way too long. Confirms that Karuizawa is not my thing, but nice to try this all the same. 7/10

dom666 double-fisting
Karuizawa 30yo 1983/2013 (55.8%, Number One Karuizawa Single Casks, Bourbon Cask, C#8606, 324b): nose: more to my liking, this. Is it a bourbon cask? The flavours hint at it: vanilla, coconut, butterscotch, dough. Quite modern, actually. Mouth: more bakery with spices and a distant acrid feel. Finish: very different from the nose and mouth, this -- cured meat, game, grassy sauce and overall invading. A refill sherry after all? Nope, a bourbon cask. 7/10

Next stop: Hunter Laing. Fred and Stewart Laing went their separate ways, earlier this year. Fred kept Provenance and Clan Denny, as well as the blends and the name Douglas Laing. Stewart took Old Malt Cask and Old & Rare, now bottled under the name Hunter Laing. I was quite excited to see Stewart for the first time, but he is not here today. Andrew (presumably his son) is there instead.

Bunnahabhain 21yo 1991/2013 (48.3%, HL Old Malt Cask, Refill Hogshead, C#HL9819, 256b): nose: rotten eggs. The wrong side of sherry maturation. Mouth: a mouthful. Acrid and sulphury. Finish: rich, but still acrid. More balanced than the mouth, not my thing all the same. Worst dram of the show for me.

This is pronounced
Glencadam 34yo 1977/2012 (56.8%, HL Old & Rare, ex-Sherry Butt, 287b): this one caught my eye on the published dram list (more on that later) as it is obviously a noble expression from a distillery I cannot claim great familiarity with. Nose: wow! Roasted chicken breasts (skin included) with herbs. Won-der-ful! Mouth: lively and spicy. Ground cloves, ground cardamom. Finish: good for a second, then it becomes an onslaught of dark chocolate and cocoa powder. Huh! Stunning! Dram of the show for dom666 and I. 9/10

Invergordon 48yo 1964/2013 (43.7%, HL The Sovereign, C#HL9861): nose: ooooh! dear. Bakery debauchery, violet, black-fruit muffins. Mouth: refreshing and very easy (how I love those old glories that have seen their ABV fall below 50% naturally!). Dangerously easy. Honey, mead. Finish: outstanding bakery flavours, a fantastic drop. 9/10

Oh. There goes Charles McLean.

Grain whisky is no good
We then venture to the end of the hall to see a newcomer: Ben Nevis. Funnily, one of the two guys is the one who reluctantly gave us the tour when we were up at the distillery, a couple of years ago. I carefully avoid him, as what he displayed then was as far from the proverbial Scottish hospitality as humanly possible. The other is the one who sold me a bottle at the distillery shop the same day and is as jovial today as he was then. Next to their usual range, they have a multitude of samples of forthcoming releases, mostly wine matured. One of them was recommended by the Whisky Cyclist, who we just bumped into.

Ben Nevis White Port: interesting, as it is so unusual a maturation for a whisky. Nose: winy! Too much so for me. Mouth: syrupy, still acceptable, not great. Finish: explosive and fruity. The finish is clearly the strong feat, here. It makes the whole worthwhile.

Glencoe 8yo (58%, OB, ca 2013): a blended malt at 58% ABV. Take a deep breath... Nose: rocket fuel, though quite winy too, strangely enough. This one is half Ben Nevis, half another, undisclosed malt (but neither Nevis, nor Glenlochy, we joke. :-) ) Gamy. Mouth: powerful, really, though not unpleasant. Finish: sparkling cola, cocoa. Interesting... and violent.

Across the hall to International Beverages.

anCnoc 22yo (46%, OB): nose: light marmalade, noble, elegant and easy. Mouth: smooth, lovely. Watered-down honey, mead. Finish: long and sweet. Not exactly a life-changing dram, though quaffable enough. 7/10

anCnoc 35yo 1977/2012 (44.3%, OB, 1495b): nose: seems a bit discrete for this late into the tasting, but it is agreeable. Honey, honeysuckle. Mouth: so soft and easy it hurts. It flows like water. Finish: marvellous -- mead, quince jelly and other sorts of sweets. Glad I have a bottle of this! 9/10
Yep, even this

Read about the second part of Day 1 here.

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